I can’t remember the last time I was mortified by someone’s passing. Anthony Bourdain, as GQ brilliantly put it, was the most interesting man on the planet - and you’d be hard pressed to disagree.
Bourdain went on to travel across the globe - sat with common folk, basked in their delicacies, and shared stories about life. He thought that sharing food and exploring deep cultures is the quintessence of life, and he is right. I have a deep admiration for people to speak their mind and preach the truth. We live in an era of political correctness and hypocrisy, one that alters personal and professional lives with just one social media post. The truth no longer sets people free, it only offends.
I feel deeply ashamed but connected to Bourdain, because that’s what he did best. He did so with people on a personal level even if that meant he was doing it through a screen. He has done more Filipino things than I have in my 29 years of existence, and he’s tasted more of my home country than I could ever wish I had the guts for. And he’s done the exact same thing all over the world. It is a life to envy, because it is a life of freedom. He’s done things that you and I don’t have the heart to, and that’s what made him special.
Suicide has been an epidemic, a disease of sorts that we can no longer ignore and pass off as a deed done by someone weak. As a matter of fact, I loathe people who share that sentiment. While it is true that we may never know the internal suffering of those whose lives we would die to have, suicide has grown by 25% in the United States alone since 1999. It leaves no social status alone. I am no suicide expert, having had zero intentions or attempts, but neither am I a stranger to depression. When you’re feeling normal, the world is a vast and colorful place. There’s so much to see, so much to explore, and so little time to do all of it.
Depression is a powerful chemical imbalance that hits you like a freight train on a random Thursday afternoon. It leaves you paralysed and the world becomes a very small place. It is dark, paralysing, and often times, claustrophobic. The only thing smaller than that is the MRI machine I entered a couple of months back. All of a sudden, the world is no bigger than a coffin. Your zest for life vanishes quicker than the colours you once saw through your very eyes. I can only assume that there are a few more elements that those who have chose to end their lives deal with that many who suffer from depression, have yet to feel. Maybe, just maybe.
I have been addicted to cars since God spoke to Moses on the mountain. Nothing makes my heart beat faster than the sight and thought of a beautiful machine. It speaks to me clearer than any other person can. When I was 12 years old, I started collecting car magazines. I can’t tell you how special it was for me to see Ferraris being driven and photographed in our local roads. I spent many nights reading pieces by Kevin Limjoco, James Deakin, Carl Cunanan, and Caco Tirona. They were my local heroes, the Anthony Bourdain to many people today. I lived vicariously through them whether I was failing exams in school or sat on the toilet.
It would prove to be the cast that would mould who I was to become. The way they drove dream cars, traveled to exotic places, and ate delicious food were galaxies away from where I was sitting. A decade later, I found myself across all of them wearing black and red at an editorial meeting. It was one of the proudest moments of my life, worthy of a tick on my bucket list. It is said that the catalyst for Bourdain’s pursuit in the culinary world began when he was first served a fresh raw oyster, and this was mine. I am profoundly grateful to have my childhood heroes as people I can call my friends today.
Cars, travel, and food keep me inspired. It consumes my daily life, but like any other mere mortal who craves for life on the fast lane, I too had my demons to battle. Sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll are a part of growing up, the severity in which you get sucked in is the only thing that sets you apart from the rest. I have an addictive personality and I lived to push the boundaries of what is acceptable or recreational. I may have missed the word ‘moderation’, in my vocabulary artillery. I can count the times I was on the brink of an overdose, but for some divine reason I'm still here pushing on the keyboard.
I couldn’t comprehend the importance of a condom, I railed too much Peruvian goodness, and I took an unhealthy amount of pills - I can’t even give you a figure. Surely, enough to kill a fucking mammal. To clear the air though, in all of that, through the depression that comes with the after burn of my debauchery - not once did I ever contemplate on taking my own life. I am a man of this world, and I am happy to be living in it. There are so many things I’ve done that I wouldn’t dare to repeat, but I acknowledge the privilege of still being here to share war stories with all of you.
A diary of misadventures.
My one true addiction that has stood the test of time is my passion for automobiles. Nothing makes me tick and giggle more than when I am behind the wheel of a car. The basics of stepping on the gas and turning the wheel is everything I’ve loved since driving my pop cars as a toddler - just the motion, and in better cars, the emotion. In exquisite cars, you can hear the stories of the people who’ve dedicated days stitching the seats of an Aston Martin or the master craftsman who precisely assembled the clock on a Bentley.
The nostalgic scent of a classic Mercedes-Benz W123 and an E34 BMW 5 Series is to me what waking up to the smell of pancakes is to you. However, true passion for me is Rosso Corsa, and it is most apparent at the shriek of a 12 cylinder Ferrari. Driving a Prancing Horse through vineyards and snow capped mountains is to me, the quintessence of life. To achieve this without the means to buy this life for myself has only taught me that the mind and will are very powerful things. You just need to work much, much harder.
Dive for that oyster.
Opus Macchina holds the bucket of vibrant luminous paint that I use to splash more color into my world. Through Bourdain, I have learned to listen more, and perhaps, to tinker more. That maybe, just maybe, there’s more to unravel in the face of a locally roasted pig or the transmission of a car, or even the lone lady who sells corn on the side of the street. Sometimes the most interesting things you’ll ever encounter have been in your peripheral longer than you’ve decided to acknowledge. Be in the present and live.
Fight your demons and gut them. Get Lost, eat exotically, paint recklessly, hug your siblings, laugh with your nephews, and drive spiritedly. Live a little longer and write that story. There has to be one, for we, as humans are a collection of some of the most interesting non-fiction autobiographies that go unpublished. Thank you, Mr. Bourdain for publishing yours. The way you used food as a common ground to give a voice to the culture of those who didn't have one will be your greatest legacy. You were the ambassador the world needed.
No reservations there.